WMU News

Public must share blame for bad journalism

Sept. 30, 2005

KALAMAZOO--An authority on ethics in journalism will share her views on how the public must share some of the blame when it comes to bad journalism on Wednesday, Oct. 5, when she visits the Western Michigan University campus.

Dr. Kris Bunton, professor and chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Room 211 of the Bernhard Center. Her presentation is titled "Hey, You in the Audience: Are You to Blame for Bad News?" and is free and open to the public. It is being offered through the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

Bunton's research has been published in such academic journals as "Public Integrity," "Journal of Mass Media Ethics," "Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly," "Journalism Educator" and "American Journalism." She has made presentations at a variety of national meetings and is past chair of the Media Ethics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the world's largest association of academics in journalism.

A frequent commentator on issues of media ethics, Bunton has been interviewed by the Minnesota media and written commentary for The St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside academics, she has worked brief stints in newspaper reporting, magazine editing and non-profit public relations.

Many people are critical of journalistic practices and think the news coverage and the journalists that produce it are sinking to ever-lower standards. But few people accept that they are partially responsible for the decline in those standards.

Bunton argues that the public is offered racially offensive crime coverage or shallow, entertainment-oriented newscasts because it's accepted as "news." Since the members of the public tolerate this kind of journalism, they get more of it. Bunton says media audiences must accept an ethical responsibility and educate themselves about the changing structure of news organizations, recognize that audiences are catered to by news organizations and demand better news coverage.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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